Thread: SOP and SOG?

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    Default SOP and SOG?

    I'm working on a newly formed committee that's been asked to rewrite my combination departments SOPs. We've been tasked with moving to SOGs for the sake of flexibility and a more operational focus which our current SOPs lack.

    Our initial plan was to revise some old constitution and by-laws for administrative and policy concerns and then to have a seperate SOG document for operational concerns.

    We've also just been asked to create an SOP document in addition to the SOG document which we already plan to create. This seems unnescesarry to me. Most departments go with either SOP or SOG but not both, correct? Is it nescesarry or common to have BOTH SOPs and SOGs?

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    Based on what I have learned, an SOP will bind you to specific course of action as outlined by the SOP.

    Therefore, an SOG would be rendered mute.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    My understanding is that an SOP is precise and set in stone. i.e. if your SOP says drive no more than 10mph over the limit then you're at fault if you break that.

    My understanding of an SOG is that it's a guideline and with reason can be flexible.

    We've been asked to create both, set in stone SOPs for some things and looser SOGs for other things. I think that will be difficult to determine what goes in which bucket and I'm not sure I've heard of any departing having both.

    I'm hoping folks can clarify if their departments have both or if they've ever heard of a department having both SOPs and SOGs.

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    There is no actual difference.

    I can word an SOG to be specific and I can word an SOP to be flexible.

    Do you really think a title has that affect? It doesn't.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Fair enough, I've heard it argued both ways (SOP vs SOG) and I definitely don't have an answer.

    Can you say though if you've ever heard of a department having both?

    If G & P are interchangeable and just semantics then my guess is that no department would have both, right?

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    We have a handbook (which defines roles, department policies [alcohol, sexual harrassment], etc.) and SOGs which give specific guidelines for response protocols to different kinds of incidents.

    The handbook must be adhered to, the SOGs can be broken with reason.

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    It's common to have both "Policies" and "SOP/G's" but, IMHO, having both SOPs and SOGs is redundant and pointless.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Default semantics

    An S.O.G is a guideline and some wiggle room.

    An S.O.P is a practice and no wiggle room.

    I hope I made it easy for you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    An S.O.G is a guideline and some wiggle room.

    An S.O.P is a practice and no wiggle room.

    I hope I made it easy for you.
    An SOP or SOG has as much or as little "wiggle room" as you write into it. What you call it makes no difference whatsoever.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    An SOP or SOG has as much or as little "wiggle room" as you write into it. What you call it makes no difference whatsoever.
    Agree 1000%

    Quite a few people think there is some sort of legal "cushion" by titling their SOP/SOG's a certain way.

    I can assure you that a jury/court/judge...etc... will not care what you call it, but what is WRITTEN past the cover page and headings.

    I would have a general statement/disclaimer/boilerplate language as your very first chapter. In general, it should outline what this document is, who should read it, how it should be followed...etc.

    I think the one I was involved in creating had language about the "dynamic" nature of a fireground and how all events/incidents and their response cannot always be "pre-determined". Ultimately, we gave some cover to the Incident Commander to use their discretion unless expressly prohibited (SCBA use on a structure fire, for example).

    However, even then, don't think you can't get sued.

    You cannot prevent a lawsuit. period. end of story.

    However, what you have written may help you WIN a lawsuit.
    Last edited by ChiefKN; 11-15-2011 at 11:46 PM.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Thanks guys. It sounds like our initial plan of one SOG (or SOP) and then a seperate bylaws document for administrative/policy issues is the way to go. Two documents and not three is the way to go it seems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadow5606 View Post
    Thanks guys. It sounds like our initial plan of one SOG (or SOP) and then a seperate bylaws document for administrative/policy issues is the way to go. Two documents and not three is the way to go it seems.
    That is how we have it arranged.

    In addition, we have a "book of directives" which is really a place to consolidate any memo from the Chief. These are usually items that may not rise to the level of an SOP or By-Law. For instance, when do you wear Class "B" uniforms and when do you wear class "A".... etc.

    However, the SOP's and Book of Directives are mentioned in the By-laws as the By-laws are the absolute guidance and from which all authority (at least to the incorporated volunteer fire company) are derived.

    The by-laws should cover global administrative policy (think the US Constitution) and the SOP's should be operations related (think of laws approved by congress).
    Last edited by ChiefKN; 11-16-2011 at 06:13 PM.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    And then there's "best practices..."
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Wording in the actual SOP or SOG is more important. There's a big difference in using SHALL vs SHOULD for example. Just decide which things you want put in stone, ie; All member SHALL wear seatbelts anytime a vehicle is moving.

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